Bike finder: Which budget e-cargo bike should I buy?
Budget e-cargo bike
For: David Powell, aged 48, from Bristol.
Bike needs: Partner and I will be using the e-bike for commuting, ferrying toddler to and from nursery, and shopping.
Must haves: Electric assistance, as we live in a city with a clean air zone coming and we want to use our car less. Easily adjustable so both my partner (5ft 4in) and I (6ft 2in) can use it. Must be able to fit a child carrier to it so that we can ferry around the toddler. We’d also like to use it to get him to school eventually. We live in a hilly area so it needs oomph.
Tern’s Quick Haul D8 looks tailor-made for your family. In its most basic form – without child-carrying accessories but with mudguards and rack – it retails at £2,900.
Firstly, it’s a great load carrier. The rear rack is rated to carry 50kg and the optional front rack 20kg, with the frame and fork industry tested up to 150kg maximum gross vehicle weight (GVW is the weight of the bike, rider and load).
Secondly, it is a Bosch mid-drive motor. Bosch mid-drives are renowned as good hill climbers, even if the Active Line Plus on the D8 is not the most powerful in Bosch’s range. Thirdly, the D8 fits rider heights of 5ft 3in to 6ft 5in, thanks to a height-adjustable Speedlifter handlebar stem and a height-adjustable seatpost.
Fourthly, to quote Tern, the D8 has “lots of available kid- and-cargo-carrying accessories”. This is very true – check out the Clubhouse Mini, Clubhouse MadPad and Captain’s Chair to give an idea of seating options. There are also various handle, footrest and wheel-guard options, plus some extra-stable stand choices. Depending how far you go down the accessory route, this could add up to a few hundred pounds.
For a more budget approach (though with less climbing ability), check out the Mycle Cargo, Rad Power RadWagon or Velosta V1. If you think you will need more hill-climbing ability, Tern’s Quick Haul P9 is a step up in motor power but costs £3,100. If you prefer the idea of keeping an eye on your offspring, you might consider Babboe’s Big-E electric trike but, again, that’s unlikely to have the hill-climbing ability of the Tern.
Tern Quickhaul D8 £2,900
To fit you both, your e-bike needs to have a long or telescopic seatpost and a relatively low standover height. That most likely means smaller wheels – for example, 20in.
A motor with more torque will cope better with Bristol’s hills, although that’s less critical if it’s a mid-motor and the bike has a decent gear range. Like your legs, a mid-motor can spin up hills more easily in bottom gear. Hub motors, in effect, have to stomp.
An e-cargo bike isn’t your only option. You could use a small-wheeled urban e-bike like the Orbea Katu-E 30 (£2,499) in combination with a child trailer such as the Burley Bee (£399). Although the Orbea’s Bosch Active mid-motor is only 40Nm, the bike has a fairly wide-range (307%) Shimano Inter-8 hub gear.
The trailer will carry one or two children and/or groceries. When your son is bigger, you could invest in a trailer cycle such as the Burley Kazoo (£329) for school-run duties.
An e-cargo bike would, however, give get-on-and-go convenience if it’s going be used for passenger duties more often than not. The Mycle Cargo (from £1,999) ticks all your boxes and would still be well under budget with a child seat and other accessories added.
Its 65Nm rear hub motor should get even heavier loads uphill well enough. While it will haul bigger loads and passengers than the Orbea or the Tern Quick Haul, it is itself bigger and heavier, tipping the scales at 33kg. If you and your partner are OK with that extra mass, it’s a great-value solution.